In the early age of video games, there was no end to the red flags that came with movie/TV-based games. Games licensed off of other properties were usually notorious for cutting corners and rushing development. This is because they were banking off of the popularity of the franchise more than the quality of the game itself. South Park: The Stick of Truth was definitely guilty of raising plenty of red flags during its development. The game was further jeopardized when its original publisher, THQ went out of business and left development uncertain. However, in spite of all of that, South Park: The Stick of Truth did eventually see a release. Not only did it meet every expectation, it went above and beyond.
The Role You Play
You play as a new kid who has just moved to South Park. As soon as you step outside, you receive an invitation from the Grand Wizard Eric. He wants you to join his army and help them protect the all-powerful Stick of Truth. You are given one of four classes to choose from: Fighter, Mage, Thief or Jew. From there on, you learn the ways of combat with your respective class. You also learn how to use certain world abilities that help you interact with the world around you. These include shooting a bow or other ranged weapon to destroy distant obstacles or utilizing a partner’s special ability. Additionally, you can also learn to control your ability to fart in certain ways but are given the specific rule, to never fart on someone’s balls.
Throughout the game, you also get to have one additional party member to assist you in battle. Each character has their own unique equipment and special abilities, so equipping them is never an issue, but you always have full control over them.
The plot is about the kids of South Park playing their own pretend live-action fantasy game. Several groups of kids are divided into factions and battling each other over control over an all-powerful relic: the titular Stick of Truth. The combat and fantasy are supposed to be pretend, but you play as a new kid who gets involved in the battle over the stick. The battle becomes less than pretend when he gets involved in a weird plot involving aliens, a government conspiracy, Taco Bell and green goo that turns people into Nazi zombies.
Stick of Truth has a lot of variety in its gameplay. When traveling throughout South Park, you have different abilities that you can use to explore and open up new areas. This includes breaking open areas with your weapons, using an alien anal probe to teleport and making use of a variety of fart powers.
The other main aspect of the gameplay is the combat. The combat system is turn-based, where you team up with one of the kids from South Park and engage enemies you encounter in the overworld. You can get an advantage in combat if you distract them with any number of hazards.
At the time that Stick of Truth was released, South Park had roughly 16 seasons worth of material to draw inspiration from. This means there was similarly a lot of material to use for sidequests and world-building. With so much material to draw from, there are plenty of areas to explore, extra bosses to fight, and quests to complete. More become more accessible as you progress further through the game. In total, the game can take anywhere from 15-20 hours to complete.
South Park usually does not have a lot of music in the TV show. It has music stings and sound bites to enhance the dialog. However, it saves the background music for the intro/outro and special occasions. For Stick of Truth, there is a brand new original soundtrack added to the game to add a consistent ambience in place of the dialogue to give it a fantasy RPG feel.
When you enter some of the stores in South Park, the speakers inside will be playing songs from previous episodes of the show.
Stick of Truth’s greatest achievement is how much it raises the bar for a game based on a licensed property. There is no sub-par art or animation, there are no substitutions in the cast, and the writing is top-notch as it gets a lot of laughs tying the South Park-style humor with the story of a fantasy RPG. It raises the bar for licensed games so high and is such a good game in the process that it is so easy to overlook any of the minor flaws in the game.
The Talking Parts
As soon as you get into the game, Stick of Truth feels like playing an interactive episode of the show. Everything is fully intact from the art style and animation to the writing and voice acting. It feels like nothing was taken for granted and no half measures were taken in the game’s development. Everyone who was lending their talent to the show lent their talent to the game. It definitely shows because the immersion never breaks at any point throughout the game.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
South Park: The Stick of Truth went through a rather tumultuous development cycle. The game’s original publisher THQ went out of business halfway through development. This meant that South Park Studios had to scramble to find another publisher to help them release the game.
They did eventually partner with Ubisoft to help them release and distribute the game. This came late in the lifecycle of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and as a result, there was some content that was left unfinished and cut from the final game.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is everything I would have ever wanted in a South Park game. It’s ridiculous, it’s crude, and I love it in spite of anything it might be missing. It feels almost exactly like playing through an interactive episode of the show and I could ask for absolutely nothing less.
Final Score: 10/10
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